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Stallman urges Congressional action

DANIEL LOOKER 01/12/2014 @ 12:27pm Business Editor

American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman expressed hope Sunday that Congress will soon finish a farm bill and legislation to authorize lock and dam repairs, and he called on those legislative leaders to pass immigration reform.

"Farmers and ranchers also need effective, long-term solutions to agricultural labor shortages," he told Farm Bureau members who are meeting at their annual convention in San Antonia, Texas this week.

"From a Colorado potato grower to a Pennsylvania fruit farmer, and from a South Carolina peach farmer to a Tennessee tobacco grower, farmers all across our country are telling us that they are facing a crisis," Stallman said. "And then there is California…here is one telling statistic from the top fruit and vegetable producing state. A survey by the California Farm Bureau found that 71% of tree fruit growers and nearly 80% of raisin and berry growers were unable to find enough employees to prune trees and vines or pick crops. When you have that many farmers unable to get the workers they need, you have a crisis in farm country. And you have a crisis for Americans who want their food grown in the United States….and want it to meet their definition of affordable to boot."

"There is some good news…Even in this time of political division, we are closer than ever to solving this problem. The Senate has passed an immigration and agricultural labor reform bill that contains principles outlined by the Agriculture Workforce Coalition, of which Farm Bureau is a part," he said.

He urged members "to tell Congress to get this job done, now!"

Stallman also criticized EPA for threatening farmers' privacy be releasing information about farmers and ranchers to environmental activists, and for regulations that will make farming difficult.

With the Environmental Protection Agency late last year putting the wheels in motion to propose extending federal regulatory authority to nearly every body of water in the country, including so-called waters that aren’t even wet most of the time, farmers and ranchers are bracing for a fight, Stallman said.

Farm Bureau has also been working through the courts to stop EPA’s attempts to broaden its regulatory reach. Disappointed with a loss in its case against the EPA’s Chesapeake Bay pollution limit rules, AFBF, along with Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, has appealed the ruling.

“Once again, we are saddled-up for the long ride in our fight for rational regulations that allow farmers to continue feeding America,” Stallman said.

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